5 things to know this week from Latin America & Caribbean: Paraguay far-right leader arrested, Conservatives control Chilean constitutional rewrite

Paraguay far-right populist presidential candidate arrested 

Paraguayan police detained former presidential candidate Paraguayo Cubas on Friday, the AP reported. Cubas came in third after he received 23% of the votes in a presidential election last Sunday with his far-right National Crusade Party. After his loss, he encouraged his supporters to protest over unsubstantiated claims that the vote was marred by fraud.

Cubas was broadcasting live on Facebook when police officers detained him outside his hotel in San Lorenzo, around 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Asunción. Cubas is being held in preventive detention under an order by the Attorney General’s Office that accused him of breach of peace. 

His supporters have taken to the streets and are blocking roads, demanding a recount and freedom for Cubas. At least 208 people have been detained “for disturbance of public peace and other punishable offenses within the framework of the demonstrations taking place in the national territory,” police said Thursday.

The Organization of American States, which deployed an observation mission for the election, said Tuesday there was “no reason to doubt the results” of the vote count.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apparaguaycubas

King's coronation draws apathy, criticism in former colonies

King Charles III was crowned in London on Saturday, the AP reported. As British sovereign, Charles is the head of state of 14 other countries, though the role is largely ceremonial. These realms, which include Australia, Canada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, represent a minority of the Commonwealth nations: most of the 56 members are republics, even if some still sport the Union Jack on their flags.

In those countries, the first crowning of a British monarch in 70 years is an occasion to reflect on oppression and colonialism’s bloody past. The displays of pageantry in London clashed with growing calls in the Caribbean to sever all ties with the monarchy.

Barbados was the most recent Commonwealth country to remove the British monarch as its head of state, replacing Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II, with an elected president in 2021. The decision spurred similar republican movements in neighboring Jamaica, the Bahamas and Belize.

Experts say that despite its flaws, historical baggage and fraying edges, the Commonwealth still holds appeal, especially for poorer nations. Most observers believe countries like Jamaica that want an elected head of state are likely to retain their memberships.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apukcoronation

Rights panel found Peru used excessive force to quell protests

The Inter American Commission on Human Rights said Wednesday that Peru’s military and police used excessive force to quell violent anti-government protests that took place from December through February, the AP reported. The protests were sparked after former President Pedro Castillo was removed from office by Congress and protestors gathered to demand the resignation of current President Dina Boluarte and new elections.

As an autonomous arm of the Organization of American States, the commission recommended that the use of excessive force should be investigated as possible extrajudicial executions and massacres.

According to government reports, at least 60 people died in the course of the protests, most of them civilians. The commission said the violations took place in several regions across Peru, but centered its investigation on the cities of Ayacucho and Juliaca, which saw the largest number of deaths.

The protests were carried out, for the most part, by Indigenous peoples and peasant communities, mainly from the southern regions of Apurímac, Ayacucho, Puno and Arequipa, which saw the highest number of victims.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apperuprotestsreport

Conservatives will now control rewrite of Chilean Constitution

The Chilean far right won the highest number of seats in a commission tasked with writing a new constitution to replace the one imposed under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the AP reported.

The impetus to write a new constitution followed violent student-led protests in 2019 that demanded greater equality and social protections. Congress managed to get the protests under control by calling for a referendum on whether to draw up a new constitution, which almost 80% of voters agreed was needed. 

However, much of that early enthusiasm waned after a draft constitution was presented to Chilean voters. Critics said it was too long, lacked clarity and went too far in some of its progressive measures. About 62% of Chileans voted to reject it, setting up Sunday’s vote to choose a committee to draft its replacement.

A coalition of left-leaning parties allied with progressive President Gabriel Boric, Unity for Chile, won 16 seats while a center-right alliance, Safe Chile, got 11. The right-leaning Republican Party, which has long said it opposes a new charter, obtained 23 of the 50 seats in the commission. This means its representatives will not only have the most seats but will also enjoy veto power over any proposals they dislike. 

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apchileconservativeconstitution

Mexican chef wins World’s Best Female Chef 2023

Mexican chef Elena Reygadas of the restaurant Rosetta in Mexico City was recognized as the World’s Best Female Chef 2023 by the British company William Reed, the AP reported. Rosetta is one of several restaurants opened by Reygadas in the capital and focuses on using seasonal, local ingredients.

Despite cooking still being largely the domestic domain of women, professional kitchens have historically been male dominated. To help spark change, she founded a scholarship for female culinary students from rural Mexico. Last year, they started with three and this year with the support of a bank, they plan to expand it to more than two dozen scholarships.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apmexicochef


More From This Section